13-Year-Old Keedron Bryant's Visual for Viral Song 'I Just Wanna Live' Is a Strong Contender for Video of the Year

Illustration for article titled 13-Year-Old Keedron Bryant's Visual for Viral Song 'I Just Wanna Live' Is a Strong Contender for Video of the Year
Screenshot: Keedron Bryant (YouTube

Whether through sheer creativity or by amplifying a moment or a movement, music videos used to mean something and make you feel something. I crave the days of yore when I’d rush home off of the school bus in order to watch MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL) or BET’s 106 & Park. I was eager to see moments everyone would discuss for the next few days. Thankfully, we’re getting back to seeing some standout visuals in 2020, and viral superstar Keedron Bryant has something special on his hands.


The video for his original track “I Just Wanna Live” is profound and poignant, and features several references to the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality. From the image of a bleeding American flag, as school children are heard reciting the Declaration of Independence to a hanging black hoodie with Skittles in one pocket and an AriZona iced tea in the other (a clear nod to the killing of Trayvon Martin), this Sara Lacombe-directed video is without a doubt one of 2020’s best. The feeling this video provides is reminiscent of how Childish Gambino’s 2018 visual for “This Is America” made us think, highlighting some important aspects of the country’s current state.

Throughout the video, Bryant is singing on his knees in front of a white cop who has a gun pointed in his direction. Several people are looking by as he pleads for his life. Elsewhere in the video, a shirtless Black man is seen with the names of police brutality victims and gun violence victims written on him in white paint: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Eric Garner and Michael Brown are some of the names clearly shown. A Confederate flag and a KKK hoodie are both burned near the clip’s end, and at the duration of the video, a peaceful resolution between Bryant and the cop is made.

In May after the death of George Floyd, the 13-year-old made headlines for a cappella rendition of an original song “I Just Wanna Live,” which was written by his mother, Johnetta Bryant. He was praised for his singing by former President Barack Obama and was signed to Warner Records in June.

“I just wanna live...God, protect me,” the simple but stirring lyrics go. “I’m a young Black man, doing all that I can.”

Bryant began singing at the age of five, and he developed a passion for gospel early on. He also appeared on the fourth season of the show Little Big Shots.

Watch the original viral clip of “I Just Wanna Live” below.


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